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The development of Anne’s maturity is captured in
close detail over a long period of time so that we the readers observe a
coming-of-age in real time. What makes this record so remarkable, however, is
that while she grows up under extremely adverse circumstances, the universal
hallmarks of female development are still seen – she has a first kiss, she
spends time with both loved ones (her parents and sister) and enemies (the van
Daans), and she deeply contemplates her own place in the world and how others
see her. As a woman growing and cultivating her own independent personality,
she finds she relates less and less over time to other people, much less her
sister and mother, so she turns to her diary to understand the changes that are
transforming her, including her budding sexuality. As she begins to imagine
herself as the independent woman she hopes to grow into, she compares this
future version of herself to her mother and thinks about what it means to be a
woman and a mother, seeing her mother as the kind of woman she wouldn’t want to
be. This is what makes this narrative special in comparison with Kluger’s
memoir – Kluger can only view the lines of her maturation from afar, as a
memory while Anne is tossed and turned within the vortex of adolescence.

isolation affects everyone in the annex, it affects the young most less acutely
because they are accustomed to it. Near the end of her diary, Anne shares
something she one read that has stuck itself to her mind ever since: “Deep
down, the young are lonelier than the old.” Young people, being unexperienced
socially, are unable to distinguish problems from normal circumstances, and
even if they were able to, they wouldn’t know how to communicate themselves to
adults, much less other children, since they haven’t found relatable peer
groups who have experienced similar problems. Indeed, her trusty diary isn’t
enough to occupy her attention indefinitely, as she recounts turning to the
cats for some new sense of attention, a behavior she sees also in Peter van
Daan. This softens her view of Peter, whom she once considered obnoxious and
lazy, and nurses a sense of kinship between them which develops through a
friendship into a fresh romance. Their evolving relationship staves off the
creep of loneliness and, later on, Anne starts to wonder whether he will be the
first one to see through her outer shell and find her true self beneath. What makes
their loneliness thematically significant, however, is that they aren’t pressured
to stave off the loneliness imposed by the Nazi regime, only the loneliness that
they’ve already grow accustomed to as young adults.

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    “I hope I
will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide
in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.” Anne writes
this inside the cover of her diary just after she receives it for her birthday,
which is obviously past the point where she has started to feel foreign and
misunderstood – she finds that she and her friends talk only about trivial
things, even when she has deeper thoughts she would like to talk about. Having
a diary – “Kitty” – enables her to express her thoughts without her insistent
fear of external scrutiny, which comforts her through her hiding time. It’s in
this way that Anne Frank’s diary is most distinguishable from the one work I
believe would be comparable in subject matter, Primo Levi’s If This is a Man.

both protagonists are in fact real people kept in real situations of constant
fear and budding despair, Levi recounts the degradation of a man forsaken of
the comforts of life and left to endure alongside his fellow prisoners. The loneliness
forced upon him consumes and digests him, leaves him a husk of his former self.
While Frank’s loneliness is not nearly as deep a tragedy, it remains felt
throughout her pages. Hers is a gentler loneliness within which she isn’t
deprived of warmth, healthy food, or the people who love her most but is left
to contemplate her identity as a Jew under Nazi rule and a young girl growing
into a woman.

Clearly, as a work of Holocaust literature, Anne Frank’s diary is one
with every work we’ve analyzed throughout the course. However, it remains my
belief that while it may explore themes explored in other works, it explores
them through quintessentially different experiences taken in through a unique
mind unique in its purity and curiosity. The loneliness and perplexity mused
upon with thorough feeling in nearly every other work of Holocaust lit. is
viewed through the new lens of Anne Frank – the loneliness is the loneliness of
a Jew in Nazi Amsterdam, but also of a little girl at the threshold of puberty;
her perplexity is that of a girl discovering and experimenting with new
sensations and urgings. Thus, the unique perspective of a little girl
experiencing the Holocaust day-by-day merits its place in he CWL 320 library.

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